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 Google starts watching what you do off the Internet too

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Posts : 7988
Join date : 2012-05-29
Location : Manchester UK

PostSubject: Google starts watching what you do off the Internet too   Sat 22 Dec 2012, 09:20

Google starts watching what you do off the Internet too

Reuters / Jason Lee

The most powerful company on the Internet just got a whole lot
creepier: a new service from Google merges offline consumer info with
online intelligence, allowing advertisers to target users based on what
they do at the keyboard and at the mall.

Without much fanfare, Google announced news this week of a new
advertising project, Conversions API, that will let businesses build
all-encompassing user profiles based off of not just what users search
for on the Web, but what they purchase outside of the home.
In a
blog post this week on Google’s DoubleClick Search site, the Silicon
Valley giant says that targeting consumers based off online information
only allows advertisers to learn so much. “Conversions,” tech-speak for
the digital metric made by every action a user makes online, are
incomplete until coupled with real life data, Google says.
“We understand that online advertising also fuels offline conversions,” the blog post reads. Thus, Google says, “To
capture these lost conversions and bring offline into your online
world, we’re announcing the open beta of our Conversions API for
uploading offline conversion automatically.”

The blog goes on
to explain that in-store transactions, call-tracking and other online
activities can be inputted into Google to be combined with other
information “to optimize your campaigns based on even more of your business data.”
is all but certain to ensure that all user data collected off- and
online will be cloaked through safeguards that will allow for complete
and total anonymity for customers. When on-the-Web interactions start
mirroring real life activity, though, even a certain degree of privacy
doesn’t make Conversions API any less creepy. As Jim Edwards writes for
Business Insider, “If you bought a T shirt at The Gap in the mall
with your credit card, you could start seeing a lot more Gap ads online
later, suggesting jeans that go with that shirt.”

Of course,
there is always the possibility that all of this information can be
unencrypted and, in some cases, obtained by third-parties that you might
not want prying into your personal business. Edwards notes in his
report that Google does not explicitly note that intelligence used in
Conversions API will be anonymized, but the blowback from not doing as
much would sure be enough to start a colossal uproar. Meanwhile,
however, all of the information being collected by Google — estimated to
be on millions of servers around the globe — is being handed over to
more than just advertising companies. Last month Google reported that
the US government requested personal information from roughly 8,000
individual users during just the first few months of 2012.
“This is the sixth time we’ve released this data, and one trend has become clear: Government surveillance is on the rise,” Google admitted with their report.

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